Best Practices Program Synopsis

For the October 28 “Best Practices” presentation, Karen Courtney of Barton Malow and Pete Kienle, of McKim & Creed featured real world examples and life lessons beginning with some definitions and differences between marketing (one to many), business development (one to one) and sales (closing the deal).

As they moved into the “Business Acquisition”: process, they talked about delineating the different stages of the sales process and where most firms spend the majority of their time. By contrast, they illustrated how that differs from where winning firms spend most of their time. The bottom line is more effort up front in the “target” and “intelligence” (relationship building) phase pays big dividends when it comes to getting the job. They referred to this process as “wiring the job.”

Expounding more on targeting and intelligence, they covered many unique places to look for leads and the sales funnel rule of thumb. It opened many eyes as to just how many places and ways you can acquire a lead from rumors you hear at your child’s baseball game to alumni reports. There was a definite push to become focused on a manageable number of prospects where your firm does have experience in what the prospect is attempting to build. A great tip in this section was to always call and ask questions about the RFP. It just shows you respect the prospect enough to make sure you have everything they require.

Next, in the Go/No Go section, the white board brainstorming came up with several suggestions a committee should consider during this phase. Does your firm have:

  • A relationship with this prospect?
  • Relevant experience with this project type?
  • Appropriate staff to do the job?
  • Funding source?
  • Enough marketing staff to create the proposal?
  • A possibility for future work?
  • Profit margin?
  • Prospect?
  • Internal champion?


Cultivate was the next area of concentration and focuses on creating those lasting relationships. Karen even told a story about an out of town shopping excursion she once had with a client. She also gave excellent insight including “trust is the number one reason a firm is selected” and “it takes a minimum of seven contacts (communications) to make a sale.”

They spoke of the fact that we all must find our value proposition, practice our elevator speech and find or create differentiators between ourselves and our competitors. We also received a great tip about a good access letter in the 14th addition of the AIA handbook.

In the “Strategic Plan” section, they advised us to set a goal, develop a strategy and devise a tactic. For marketing in a slow economy they encouraged to keep talking, bury your competition, promote yourself, give accolades to those that do a great job and keep marketing and developing business!

Mark Fore
National Business Development Manager
CEI Engineering Associates, Inc.

What's On My Mind...

These days I’m finding it’s important to cut through the clutter and focus on what is important. The challenge is figuring out just what is the important stuff.

We all have that ever-present balancing act between our personal and professional lives. The way I see it is, as you get older, you really need to “protect” your me time, or the thing that makes you YOU, gets lost. Time is a premium. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned to my husband or children and said, “I just wish there was more time in the day.” That’s at the point where I’m climbing in bed and then falling asleep immediately. And, then again, there are those times I lay awake all night worrying about things – some within my control and other totally out of my control. I’m sure you’ve felt that way too.

My thought here is to share a few tidbits or, perhaps even, mantras that may serve as some guideposts for you in your own individual journeys:

  • Stay on a quest of continuous learning! Personally, I like knowing a little about a lot of things. It keeps life interesting. I like to know about what’s on the horizon. It gives you great conversation starters.
  • Celebrate your wins; pat yourself on the back. Especially in our industry, I know you may often feel like you are unappreciated or not valued. The truth is if YOU know your value, that’s all that matters. Walk with your head held high and smile. And, if you don’t like your situation, you are the only one who can change it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘ask for forgiveness instead of permission.’ I have found that if I’m waiting for someone to give me permission to do something, that particular opportunity is long gone. Trust your gut, must of the time it is right. But, if you totally mess something up, quickly admit to your failing. If you don’t, the consequences can be disastrous.
  • Avoid looking back and saying “I wish I would’ve.” If you ever find you are at a crossroad of indecision or even fear, ask yourself, “Will I wish I would have done that?” Much of life is serendipity. And, if you think about it, we spend a lot of energy ‘creating our own luck.’ Think about it.
  • Be in it to win it! Everyone wants to win. Give it your all. Think positively and know you are going to win. You deserve to win!


Since this is a ‘blog’ and the EAC has been challenged to participate, I look forward to hearing your feedback and comments to this posting, share your insights that may serve as inspiration to others.

Peggy Henderson
Senior Associate
Heery International